Slaven Bilic says Manchester City were a “much, much harder” opponent than West Ham after his side battled to a 2-1 win.
The Hammers added to their memorable away wins at Arsenal and Liverpool this season through goals from Victor Moses and Diafra Sakho, with Kevin De Bruyne’s strike proving a mere consolation for the league leaders.
Bilic admitted his side had to battle harder to secure all three points against their previously undefeated opponents, and expressed how proud he was of his players.
“You need a bit more if you want to score two goals here, or two at the Emirates or three at Anfield. You need not only to work, but you have no chance if you are not sprinting in the last minute of the game.
“To be fair, we deserved it with the way we played in the first half and the way we were fighting in the second half, but this was a different game than the one at the Emirates and the one at Anfield.
“This was much, much harder for us. In the second half, City created, they pressed us and they were the better team, to be fair, and if they had equalised it would have been deserved.
“But at the end of the day, the few times that we could keep the ball or get a little breather, we also created a couple of chances in the second half – the great one from Sakho – and we deserved it because, first of all, we scored two goals here and in the second half we were fighting as a unit from the goalkeeper to the striker.”
Bilic admitted that De Bruyne’s strike on the stroke of half-time forced him to make tactical changes at the break to maintain the lead.
He added: “We had not to change it, but adjust it because they were causing problems in the first half through [Jesus] Navas, who was isolated with [Aaron] Cresswell one versus one, and he was on fire today.
“We just wanted to help Cresswell because it’s hard to cope with the pace of Navas, and that is why we changed the positions of [Manuel] Lanzini and [Dimitri] Payet.
“But we were not that down at half-time. We were still winning the game. It would have been better if we were 2-0 up, but we knew that the key in the second half would be to keep the ball, because we knew that they were going to press us and start probing and push their line up.”